Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Greg Hemphill on new comedy Dinosaur, ’empty nest syndrome’ and his take on Pittenweem witches row

The former Still Game star says he's been training for new sitcom's 'embarrassing dad' role for 20 years - but with his real-life kids now gone, he's also embracing life in Fife!

Greg Hemphill as Ade (left) with Kat Ronney (Evie) and Sally Howitt (Diane). Image: Mark Mainz
Greg Hemphill as Ade (left) with Kat Ronney (Evie) and Sally Howitt (Diane). Image: Mark Mainz

Greg Hemphill is no stranger to change.

From growing up in Canada to moving from Glasgow to Elie in Fife, the former Still Game star and his actress wife Jules were recently hit by “empty nest syndrome” when their 22-year-old and 18-year-old children moved out of home.

Describing the experience as “really really strange”, the 54-year old actor, writer, comedian and director said it was “like forced retirement or involuntary redundancy”, adding: “Your role for the last 20 years is just taken off you overnight.

“They left within two weeks of each other, and suddenly me and my wife were like ‘what do we do now’?”

Greg Hemphill (Still Game), and wife Julie Wilson-Nimmo, wild swimming.
Greg Hemphill, and wife Julie Wilson-Nimmo, wild swimming.

It’s common for parents to have feelings of loneliness, sadness and loss when their children leave home.

But looking for the positives, Greg has found those experiences of change to be “wonderfully familiar” around the plot of the new BBC sitcom Dinosaur that he’s in.

What role does Greg Hemphill play in the new sitcom Dinosaur?

The six-part series follows the life of Nina, an autistic palaeontologist in her 30s (played by Ashley Storrie who is autistic in real life), navigating life in Glasgow with her sister and best friend, Evie.

With Evie getting married, the comedy follows Nina’s journey as she adapts and learns how to cope with such enormous change.

Rather than it being particularly about autism, Greg says it’s more a show about family and sisterhood where the lead character happens to be neuro-diverse.

“I play Ade – Nina’s father,” explains Greg, who describes the show as “compelling, moving and hysterical”.

“Nina is played by Ash who co-wrote the show with Matilda Curtis.

Greg Hemphill as Ade (back right) wth Dinosaur cast Kat Ronney (Evie), David Carlyle (Bo), Sally Howitt (Diane) and Ashley Storrie (Nina). Image: Mark Mainz

“In a nutshell, without giving anything away, it’s Ash’s story – the story of Nina, her character.

“She is a young autistic girl and her sister is very whimsical and sort of – I don’t know if flighty is the right word – but she makes decisions on a dime and she decides to get married.

“It’s all about how Nina deals with this massive sea change in her family because she doesn’t really cope very well with these kind of changes.

“So the whole show was kind of built around this impending wedding and whether or not it will happen.

“It was a joy because most shows I’ve been involved in – and most shows in Scotland – are episodic sitcoms.

“This is a serialised show. So you have to kind of watch them all.”

What did Greg Hemphill enjoy most about filming Dinosaur?

Greg lived in and around the west end of Glasgow for about 30 years. He laughs that it was therefore a “real stretch” for the filming to be done in such a familiar area.

While many Scottish-filmed dramas tend to be about “drugs, whisky and golf”, it was “really nice” for a show to be set in the “leafy west end” of the city, looking at this unusual family of artists and wannabe artists instead.

Greg says it’s great to see stories told from different perspectives.

What he’s found most “thrilling” and “refreshing”, however, is the commonality of the storyline to all families.

“It’s a very funny, fast, warm, very moving story,” he says.

“Ash and Matilda are brilliant writers. Ash proves there’s no such thing as an overnight success. She’s been working hard on her own and with her mum (Janey Godley) for 20 years.

“They’ve done a lot of stuff. Sketching, acting, presenting, comedy, stand-up.

“I think she certainly looked to me like she was ready to do this. That was great to see.

“Because I remember that feeling. When we first heard that Still Game had been commissioned, we were excited. We knew we had to grab it.

“So to see somebody else get that opportunity (has been fantastic).”

Why Still Game ‘risked moving into Last of the Summer Wine territory’

Greg originally auditioned for the role of one of Nina’s work colleagues.

But any illusions he had that he was still “young and hip” were shattered when he was offered the role of Nina’s dad.

As a self-proclaimed “embarrassing dad” in real life, he laughs he’s been training for the role for 20 years!

Just as families change, Greg is in no doubt that “everything comes to an end”.

This was certainly the case with Still Game, whose series co-star Sanjeev Kohli also features in Dinosaur.

Victor McDade, played by Greg Hemphill, and Jack Jarvis, played by Ford Kiernan in Still Game

Still Game risked moving into “Last of the Summer Wine territory” had it continued indefinitely.

Sensibilities also change, he says, and if Still Game was being launched today it “wouldn’t be the same”.

Working on Dinosaur, Greg enjoyed playing a supporting role to a core group of younger actors. He describes it as a “different pressure”.

“The pressure was that you wanted to do your best for them rather than you being in the eye of the storm as the writer and the executive producer and actor of your own thing,” he says.

He laughs that “one of the nice things about getting old is that everything fades into perspective”.

But being based in the East Neuk of Fife has also given greater opportunity to reflect on life in general.

What does Greg Hemphill enjoy most about living in Fife?

Having lived in many places, and having gone “back and forth for nine years” between Elie and Glasgow, moving to Fife permanently felt less like moving to a new place and more like moving into a place they knew very well.

“It’s a beautiful place (Elie) and I feel lucky to be in a town like that – holy cow, it’s gorgeous!” he says, adding that he tries to get involved in the local community where possible.

Greg Hemphill and wife Julie Wilson-Nimmo first got into wild swimming near their home in Elie, Fife.

“And the weather is different. The haar comes in in the summer. I don’t know. I just love it. It’s great.”

The Courier told previously how Greg and Jules got into wild swimming while living in Elie.

Something else they’d like to do soon – taking advantage of the kids leaving home – is the Elie Chain Walk.

They never got round to doing it when the “kids were too wee”.

When they do get around to it, however, he’ll be mindful of the time five years ago when he went out on an “absolutely phenomenal” training exercise with the Anstruther lifeboat – and the crew warned that the Elie Chain Walk can be one of their busiest call-out destinations.

“I think when I went out with the Anstruther lifeboat folk we went towards the chain walk,” he says.

A tricky section of the Elie Chain Walk.

“By the time we got there I was scunnered because the boat was like moving about and I was like ‘how do you do this every day’?

“I’m told their new boat will have less movement in it.

“But what a great bunch of people they are.

“Most of them are volunteers. They just live their lives, and they do this incredible thing as well. They are like real life superheroes.”

Greg Hemphill enjoys the peace and quiet of the East Neuk

It’s well documented that the East Neuk of Fife has become home to numerous homegrown artists, musicians and other creatives from elsewhere who’ve made the area their home.

Post-Covid-19 technology advances has made remote living even more popular all round – although some would argue this has simply further hiked local house prices and squeezed out more “locals” to make way for holiday homes.

For the past four or five years, Greg has loved visiting the annual Pittenweem Arts Festival.

He finds it “really refreshing and fun”.

He also loves the relative peace and quiet of the East Neuk while remaining close enough to the Central Belt.

“I’m a big fan of sleep – and you get a good sleep there!” he laughs.

But he’s also interested in the history of the area, including the recent debate over the “illegal” witches mural on the side of a pub in Pittenweem.

The mural on the side of the Larachmhor Tavern in Pittenweem.
A ‘witch’ mural on the side of the Larachmhor Tavern in Pittenweem has caused a stooshie. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson

“Personally, I think it speaks to the wider conversation of ‘do you sweep these things away or do you face them head on?’”, he says when asked if he has a specific view on the mural.

“It feels braver to face them head on and have the discussion. This is part of our heritage, part of our history. And sweeping it away feels disingenuous I guess.

“That’s just a personal thing, because Glasgow has its own dark history and whatnot and it’s coming to terms with it.

“We have the younger generation to thank for that I think. You’ll only hear old people grumbling about statues being pulled down.

“But young people – the conversation is ‘we have to look at this thing as a whole’.

“So the Pittenweem witch situation is, I’d imagine, similar to that.

“It’s like ‘let’s look at it, let’s talk about it, because it’s here.’”

All episodes of Dinosaur are available on BBC iPlayer now.